Don’t Burden the Idea’s Debt

What’s the biggest goal on your to-do list? Is it cross country to your dream city? Starting a business? Building your own blog?

Now think: why haven’t you checked it off your list yet?

As Jessica Abel, cartoonist and author, explains , this is because it became part of your duty for the idea. And, as we all know, paying off debt can be tricky. Abel writes (italics):

Idea Debt is when you spend too much time to imagine what the project will be like, too much time to think about how great it will be in the world, too much time to imagine how cool you will look like you will be in demand for how much money you make. And there is too little time to create a thing.

It’s a script idea you’ve been hatching for 10 years, a podcast that you constantly ponder but never do, a novel that you promise to sit down and write but never find the time. Despite all the talk about your Idea, the to-do lists you’ve made, and the tutorials you’ve reviewed, you still haven’t gotten anywhere. Abel’s point of view, which we can all understand, is that it is time to pay off the debt and move on.

Abel says she first came across the term Idea Debt when she interviewed Kazu Kibuishi , a graphic novelist and illustrator. Kibuishi attributes this to the fact that he was snowboarding: he made a big jump in his head, afraid to do it, but when he finally did it, he was slightly let down. The experience has never matched the hype. “So I learned one thing – just hitting a jump or just passing it. Just do it now. Or not, said Kibuishi. “So you can move on and wait for the next time.”

It reminds me of a similar advice to improve the productivity, of which I wrote : OHIO or Only Handle It Once. When you need to do something – from the mundane, like answering an email, to the more exciting, like writing a memoir – the best course of action is always to just do it. Once you think of this idea, once the email is in your inbox, just take care of it now. Then it won’t be on your mind.

Idea Debt takes it one step further: you don’t just put off answering an email for weeks, you postpone your dreams indefinitely. How many of us are putting off dance lessons because we don’t want to look stupid, or trying to live in a new city because we’re scared? How about launching a newsletter that we share with friends all the time, or finally sending our manuscript?

Abel associates this with perfectionism – we have such high hopes for projects, we want to give everything to them, but this often happens at the expense of real production of something, real life. Instead of acting, we imagine how we would act. In other words, the ideal is the enemy of the good. As this article says , there is a time to dream and a time to do. Time to get busy.

“Avoiding a debt of ideas” is acting before you think too much and are not overwhelmed by how complex and important your project seems, ”writes Abel.

And not only about jumps, but also about skipping jumps that you haven’t done yet. The jumps that you have outgrown. Abel writes:

What happens when you carry the idea debt for too long, and your life goes on, is that your idea hangs on like an albatross. You cannot move on to a new, exciting, more mature job because you have promised yourself that you will finish this job.

Ask yourself: Are the ideas taking place in your head today or earlier? Do they still care about you? Will they help you become the person you want to be, or are they just sitting there because you never took them away? Allowing yourself to move on frees you from debt for the idea, and you can take on new initiatives and goals.

Here’s a choice: do it now, or let go and make room for new ideas. Don’t let the debt of your idea grow.

Vision of Your Future Projects Holds You Back | Jessica Abel


Leave a Reply